We continued to Iran, undoubtedly the trip highlight | Let's Go Iran
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We continued to Iran, undoubtedly the trip highlight

In October and November 2013, Eric and Debora filled a gap in our travel bibliography: Persia and Arabia.  We visited six new countries: in order, the United Arab Emirates; the Islamic Republic of Iran; Kuwait; the Sultanate of Oman; Yemen and its island of Socotra; and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  It was an eye-opening and fascinating journey.

PersepoliseA free flight to Abu Dhabi on blue-chip Etihad Airways began the trip, featuring private suites (thank you Citibank MasterCard!).  From there we continued to Iran, undoubtedly the trip highlight.  Not a Hawaiian vacation: the visa approval process alone takes two months. The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with Iran.

Everyone said "Isn't it unsafe?" or "Why do you want to go there? They hate us and want to kill us." That's certainly what we all read in the press.  The reality couldn't be more different.

When ordinary people on the streets, or in restaurants, found out we were Americans, we became rock-stars. They broke into smiles and shook our hands, posing for pictures, "Thank you for coming!", "God Bless you". From an old guy on the street in Shiraz, a bear-hug and a kiss on both cheeks.  Everyone has a brother, uncle, cousin, etc. in Los Angeles.

We visited the fabled ruins of Persepolis, capital city of Cyrus and Darius the Great.

 

Here, a passerby (third from Left) greeted Debora and learned we were Americans. She immediately summoned her clan for a picture:

a passerby

Of course the regime is anti-American, hurting from sanctions, and we're the longtime "Great Satan." But those signs are disappearing. We saw just two anti-American posters in Tehran, one of them half-ripped. Many people wanted to buy us tea or dark coffee (no alcohol in Iran, sadly) and talk politics. Whoa! At a restaurant in Shiraz, cradle of Persian civilization and home of Shiraz wine, Shirazi salad, and iconic poets Hafez and Saadi, a young couple (he an anesthesiologist and she a pediatrician) began bashing the regime.  He exclaimed in English, "I hope when you return, the clerics will be gone, and we can be drinking Shiraz wine!"

 

In Isfahan, Iran's most famous city, we were touring the fabled Shah Mosque with its turquoise-tiled bulbous domes and minarets. A pair of young robed and turbaned clerics were greeting people and handing out candy.  What the heck, I asked for a picture. The one replied with a wisecrack in perfect American English, though he'd never been out of the country. There ensued an hour's discussion about life in Iran, what it's like to be a young cleric (he said it's a job), Islam and Christianity, etc.

 

Iran is a land of great travel wonders. Tehran, although smoggy and a traffic-choked metropolis, is home to the ousted Shah's astonishing Crown Jewels and Peacock Throne. His former palaces were a walk down 1960's memory lane. Darband, nestled in the foothills of the snowcapped Elburz Mountains, is a delightful place to hike the trails and have a glass of tea or dinner by the creek.  At the old Golestan Palace, we became royalty:

a young cleric royalty

 

Homestay tours in Iran Creative Tourism in Iran

Iran ski tours Travel to Iran with Kids

 
  • Tehran > Kashan > Abyaneh > Isfahan > Shiraz

    8 Days

    Visiting the amazing Abyaneh village beside the normal touristy route, experiencing rural life and its simplicity the best and quickest way possible

    Details
  • Tehran > Ramsar > Masooleh > Sarein > Ardabil

    10 Days

    Greeness at its best, take a tour of amazing nature in North of Iran. Visiting local villages and enjoying the traditional life from inside. Spending time with locals while enjoying the weather and scenery.

    Details
  • Tehran > Ahvaz > Shiraz > Kerman > Yazd > Isfahan

    15 Days

    The Nourouz is a traditional festival of the Iranians, which celebrate the New Year of the Persian calendar. Symbol of rebirth and renewal. The Iranians take advantage of Norouz's holiday to visit their families, friends and relatives. Great festivals are organized on the occasion of Norouz.

    Details
  • Tehran > Hamadan > Kermanshah > Khorramabad > Shahrekord > Sepidan > Shiraz > Persepolis > Yazd > Esfahan > Abyane > Kashan

    15 Days

    In this tour you will have a combination of historical sightseeing plus an amazing group of villages to visit. We would refresh and recharge in Sepidan with it's breathtaking nature.

    Details
  • Tehran > Shiraz > Yazd > EsfahanMust see Tour of IranMap

    8 Days

    The must see route in Iran, we will visit most of the major historical sites. Best tour to get if this is your first time traveling to Iran

    Details
  • 'TWO RELIGIONS, TWO CULTURES' a trip combining  the first Christian country in the world - ARMENIA with an extensive visit to northern IRAN, and as well the southern towns of Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Persepolis and Yazd. The tour is  planned to start end September 2011. A chance for you to drink Shiraz in Shiraz ??
    The itinerary has now been finalised.  Look under  " Armenia - Iran "
    Please inform me if you are interested so that I can continue planning and organisation.

    Details
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Testimonials

  • The memories will last a lifetime Details
  • Thank you for giving us a short but overflowing trip to Iran Details
  • Your prompt reply to me is a true sign of professionalism and greatly appreciated by me
    Your prompt reply to me is a true sign of professionalism and greatly appreciated by me Details
  • We enjoyed every part of the tour
    We enjoyed every part of the tour Details
  • Of the 109 countries I have been blessed to visit Iran have moved to NUMBER 1 as one of my most special of all places
    Of the 109 countries I have been blessed to visit Iran have moved to NUMBER 1 as one of my most special of all places Details
  • I hope that many more Americans take advantage of the opportunity to see your wonderful country
    I hope that many more Americans take advantage of the opportunity to see your wonderful country Details
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Last day in Iran 01:40
So safe here 00:49
Birthday in Iran 00:31
Talking about Iran 01:53